Recent RAB figures (rab.co.uk) have shown that radio ad spend has increased marginally after a five year slump. But radio is suffering. More and more spend is going to online and budgets are being slashed. And radio campaigns are expensive.
Sure, there are very compelling reasons to use radio. But this article isn’t about that or about pitting radio against online. It’s about what radio can learn from online as a medium.
Acceptable keyword density for written online content (websites, articles, blogs etc) is between 2.5% and 5%. Anything more is spam.
Radio ads and stations still have the tendency to scream their brand names over and over. Do people still respond to brand barrage? I think not.
Big blocks of text are not effective online. Neither are long, laborious sentences. Shouting (CAPS) peeve people off and brands the shouter as an online jerk.
Maybe it’s time to consider how your message comes across on radio.
Lots of convincing research has been done on the effectiveness of radio used in combination with online (rab.co.uk). People are said to be three times more likely to search for a brand-name if they hear it on radio. The most effective radio messages are actioned online.
Links are the currency of the internet. Links bring traffic and traffic brings money. Radio advertising can promote client websites, the station’s website, blog, fan page or twitter platform. More importantly and often neglected – all these platforms should link to each other.
4. Invite People In:
For years, radio branded itself as the intimate friend, the whisper in the ear. Yet never did this conversation cut both ways. They’re called listeners after all. That’s their job.
I’m not talking about the token caller who is taken on-air once an hour and primed to say exactly what the station wants. I mean interaction between stations and listeners. Getting content from listeners. Listening to and running with what they want. Not playing a song so often they learn to like it. Not calling competition entries “interaction”.
Everywhere I go I see ears plugged with earphones. Radio stations are competing against personalized playlists and personalized internet radio stations. Stations have to start giving people the opportunity to choose those parts of the service offering they want and scrap the rest.
5. Quality Content:
Popular online content marketing wisdom says an expert should write or video something that others want and need. And then give it away for free until a tribe of followers is created who will be passionate enough to buy the follow-up offering. So the theory goes.
Free content is essentially what radio has been offering its listeners for decades. And it’s something that will never change: Loads of free, QUALITY content is why people listen.
Not the self-indulgent, spammy kind of content that is centered solely on the marketing and benefitting of self (like station ID’s every 5 seconds and DJ’s blabbing on about what they had for breakfast). Behavior like this will get you skinned alive online because it’s anti-social and disrespectful.
Radio stations need to look at what they are offering – the fact that they play what everyone wants to hear is no longer a benefit. People can, and will, get it elsewhere where they do not have to work so hard for it.
6. Relevant Content:
“Relevant” radio content used to mean traffic and weather updates and local news. Now that stations (like 95.8 Capital FM, London) are allowing their listeners to stay tuned though an iPhone app while on the move, the challenge of providing relevant content takes on a whole new meaning.
Previously, radio responded to consumer patterns by ad placement in specific time slots (i.e. advertising fast-food when people were on their way home from work). What can radio learn from location-based social applications like Foursquare? Can ads be custom-streamed to an individual listening to the station, triggered by foursquare book-in or twitter update? I think it’s coming.
Is radio advertising still relevant at all? Listeners to online radio stations are choosing ad-free paid-for subscriptions. It’s clear that advertising is irrelevant to them. It’s interesting that a medium commercially optimized to deliver advertising messages to prospects is now shunning this model in its online reincarnation.
The trend is clear – people are demanding content that is specific to them and their specific physical circumstance at a specific moment. The challenge is for radio to translate this and remain relevant.
Community is huge online. People are grouping into networks where they gain direct access to what interests them and hang around with people they like. They BENEFIT from their association with each other.
For years the radio industry was smug about its place in the living space of listeners. It survived the big TV onslaught and came out stronger. It could sell 15 minutes advertising to the hour and people would just sit through it, because they somehow “zoned” in and out to what they wanted to hear.
Not anymore. Online ad avoidance has spilled over to other mediums. People are taking it personally. Lumping radio advertising into the same category as spam and direct mail and pop-up banners.
Advertising is on its way to becoming an invasion of privacy. Unless you ask people their PERMISSION to tell them stuff about yourself.
People listening to a radio station are part of a community. But some people in the community are not playing by the rules. They shout, disrespect, boast and generally make it weird for everyone else.
When a station, its clients and the listeners form a community, the rules apply to EVERYONE:
- Be honest;
- Be human;
- Be respectful;
- Give more than you take.
Stations needs to sound honest, believable, like the experts they claim to be. They need to give compelling benefits for joining their club. They need to be human and come across as approachable.
They need to start answering their bloody emails.
(C) Lizelle Smit – All Right Reserved Worldwide